File Under “Now I’ve Seen It All” : Vibrating Mascara

Now I’ve seen it all… while munching on my breakfast cereal and catching up on morning email on my PowerBook, my ear caught something coming out of the EyeTV (running on a freebie MacMini that acts as my own private media empire) which caused me to actually look at the screen as the Today Show segued into commercial land (this is usually when I look away from the screen)…

And that’s where, as they say, my life changed…

For until this morning I was totally unaware of the existence of Maybelline’s Pulse Perfection Mascara. See, I don’t pay much attention to make-up generally, especially mascara; maybe it’s because I’m male – though plenty of men do, (and “not that there’s anything wrong with that”) not to mention that as an actor I’ve worn my fare share over the years – or maybe it’s because I have plentiful eyelashes that have been the envy of every woman I’ve ever dated (but that’s another blog post…).

Well, let me tell you, eyelash technology has really improved while I wasn’t looking; now you can purchase mascara with a brush that is powered to oscillate some “7,000 times per stroke” [per their ad campaign; number unverified – ed.].

Really? Does the human race really need this? And I’m not being smarmy – like it’s a news flash that someone made another product to fix a need that arguably doesn’t quite exist; I mean to say “does the planet need this?”

And Maybelline is not alone. Apparently Lancome, and several other competitors, produce these kinds of products. These things are powered, somehow – there’s little info on the web on the exact “technology” behind them, but one has to surmise there’s a small motor and some sort of power source packed into the applicator. And it’s not rechargeable, it’s disposable.

See, if they would make it rechargeable, I’d even start using it; it would be my lefty obligation practically. But, come on, do we really need to take a product that was already wasteful and ad mechanical parts and battery acid to the mix and watch these things pile up in our landfills?

Just for kicks, I Googled “Pulse Perfection Mascara, environmental impact” and most of the hits referred to, I’m not kidding, “creating the right spa environment” and how just a few applications of a certain cream “had a big impact.”

I realize I’m treading that dreaded double-standard line: here I am, a man, complaining about a product that’s geared toward women, all the while typing away on a computer which also has a battery and limited life-span and will eventually wind up in a landfill. Granted, Apple’s recycling program is getting better (and I’m trying to help the situation by continuing to use a five year old computer and get every last drop of usefulness from it), but even first world recycling programs can have tremendous impact on third world cultures and the ecosystem (and if you haven’t seen Frontline’s piece, you simply must); so even us non-make-up-wearing techies need to take a sobering look at our own contribution to the problem.

But there’s a larger problem that I see which the Maybelline commercial touched upon: the mechanization of processes that otherwise need no mechanical apparatus. Powering devices to make them useable by people whose physical abilities are impaired is one thing; adding mechanics and power sources to products used in conditions where said power adds very little other than the illusion of a more efficient, convenient way of doing something that good old “elbow grease” can already do just fine seems downright lame.

Are we really this lazy, America?

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